Decorating the Wabi-Sabi Way

Decorating the Wabi-Sabi Way

Grace Shu
Nov 24, 2008

Lately, we've been hearing the term "wabi-sabi" being thrown around a lot. Example 1: Overheard at last weekend's swap meet: "Those teacups are awesome--so wabi-sabi!" Example 2: On the hunt for a dining table, our friend was hitting up all kinds of architecture salvage yards, explaining, "I don't want a run-of-the-mill dining table, I want something with history and know, wabi-sabi style." Finally, when we got the previous issue of Sköna Hem and saw their feature on wabi-sabi, we figured it was a sign to do some research and see what all the fuss was about...

Wabi-sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection: it values simplicity, uncluttered, underplayed, and modest surroundings. Authenticity is key to wabi-sabi philosophy: the presence of cracks and scratches in things are considered to be symbolic of the passing of time, weather, and loving use--and should be embraced. Another facet to wabi-sabi is the idea of the "obvious pretty" vs. "unique beauty." (Or, as one of the articles we read describes it, "Marilyn Monroe vs. Katherine Hepburn").

Unlike shabby chic, wabi-sabi decor inspires minimalism that focuses more on the people who live in the space than anything else. Possessions and other items are pared down to the essentials based on utility, beauty, or nostalgia (or all three). The color palette sways toward whites and earth tones thanks to the use of natural materials. It's almost Shaker-style in its approach: live modestly, and learn to be satisfied with life as it can be once the unnecessary is stripped away.

Wabi-sabi enthusiasts (called "wabibitos") are described as being "a person who could make something complete out of eight parts when most of us would use ten." Practically speaking, this could be the act of living in smaller home, driving a smaller car, or even eating just enough to be pleasantly full this Thanksgiving holiday.

After reading a few articles on wabi-sabi, we're inspired to try this out (New Years is right around the corner after all). What do you think of wabi-sabi?

[ Photos from Sköna Hem and Emmas Design Blogg ]

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